More Wise, Together

Who’s Tenneson?

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I’m a Poet, a Coach, and a Group Process Facilitator.

I’m also a consultant, workshop leader, and teacher. I am committed to improving the quality of collaboration and imagination needed in groups, teams, communities, and organizations — to help us be in times such as these with consciousness, kindness, and learning. My work for 25+ years has been to design and lead meetings in participative formats. From strategic visioning with boards to large conference design to communities just learning to listen again to one another.

I work with groups, organizations, and individuals sorting their way toward more wise, kind, helpful and life-giving ways. Both in short term improvements and long term strategy. Here’s an extensive list of groups I’ve consulted and guided over the years.

As it is with all of us, there is nuance that surrounds and thickens the plot. I’m also a dad. I’m a new grandfather. I’m a brother, a son, an uncle, a nephew, a partner, a friend. I’m an Art of Hosting Steward, a Flow Game Practitioner, and Circle Way Facilitator. I’m a Workshop Design Geek — it’s just plain fun to create formats for joyful learning together.

Read on for other ways of saying all of that. Let’s connect. The first step is a conversation.

Contact Me

Coaching as a Group Process Facilitator

Most of the work that I do is leadership development and team building. My efforts are to help people be more wise together, yet also more simple and clear. Most organizations and communities crave this. It’s why I have passion as a Group Process facilitator.

Three orientations — living systems, self-organization, and emergence — inspire and inform all of my work. So does emptiness, breath, and a freshly-picked garden tomato. My approaches are framed to integrate the inner with the outer, and the present moment with the longer arc of time. All of that so as to create sustainable and vibrant systems of human beings doing well with what they most care about.

If you are a person or group that seeks both better meetings, and, yearns to be in the questions as much as the answers in the name of more humane systems everywhere, let’s begin to explore. We might find work together that changes everything. We might find journey. We mind find both.

More about Work

Poetry as a Group Process Facilitator

All of my life, I’ve been the kind of person that has had as much interest in the unseen as I have had in the seen. I’ve had interest in the mystery and the mystical, with an inherent hunch that things are not as they seem, despite the human ability to concretize belief systems and leadership practices.

My love or prosed Poetry is a love of getting to essence. My love of Coaching is a love of guiding to purpose, meaning, direction, and instinct. My love of Group Process Facilitation is inviting group imagination and collaboration. That for the bigger picture of things and for the next first steps. My best work is often combining all of this together, connecting inner to outer. Linking now to the longer arc. Getting to what is more smart, more wise, more purposed — together.

More about Poetry

Background

tenneson woolf in black shirt speaking at art of hosting event in japan holding microphone in front of drawings

My education background includes an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in organizational behavior. My work lineages include The Berkana Institute with Margaret Wheatley, The Circle Way with Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, and The Art of Hosting with Toke Moeller and Monica Nissen.

I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I now live in South Jordan, Utah, on traditional lands of Utes and Goshutes, in a high desert valley that meets the foot of the Oquirrh and Wasatch Mountains.

Participative Leadership – My Life, Art and Work

Consulting & Training

Methodologies

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All of my work utilizes participative leadership methods, whether with small teams or large organizations, to help access more of the wisdom already present in a group, and, to help groups be smarter together. I have 20+ years applied experience in numerous settings with The Circle Way, Open Space Technology, The World Cafe and other forms nuanced to particular circumstance.

Read more on methods here.

Frameworks

Behind methods are always frameworks and world views that amplify impact and purpose. Learned and practiced with colleagues over years, I count on several well-trusted orientations. “Two Loops,” “Cynefin,” “The Chaordic Path,” “Divergence & Convergence,” “Visual Harvesting,” “Chaordic Stepping Stones,” “Hobbit Tools,” “Asking Powerful Questions,” and “The Four Fold Path.” I also love creating and evolving new frameworks, both to bring to groups, and to create with them.

Read more on frameworks here.

Coaching and Guiding

tenneson woolf in plaid short looking at many yellow and blue sticky notes on a whiteboard

My coaching is very much about creating an environment to help people and groups deeply ground the “what,” the “why,” and the “how” of their work. My coaching is a commitment to both the detail of participative design needs, and, the depth of personal awakeness and leadership inquiry. It is very much about creating spaciousness and expansion in what can so often be compressed and contracted.

Much of my coaching happens online utilizing Zoom for video connection. Sessions are typically 60 minutes for individuals and 90 minutes for teams. I utilize a process of inquiry that integrates external observation with internal relevance, and vice versa. And that explores beneath the surface of relevance for the immediate moment that is connected to the longer arc.

Contact Me to Schedule a Call

Reflection & Writing

Daily Writing

tenneson woolf in light grey shirt looking down and writing with pen on paper in front of brown fence and green pasture

It’s typically between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. when I most often wake, whether to morning sunlight or remaining darkness of night. First, when able, I journal privately to catch morning insights that have grown naturally through night sleep. Sometimes dreams. Second, even if just for five minutes, but more typically 20, mediation. My body, my mind, and my heart need to know this spaciousness, particularly in the busiest of times. I continue to learn that I can’t take people to spaciousness in their work if I don’t know it in me. Third, writing. Because that’s how I particularly find more of the inner that helps make sense of the outer. It’s practice.

I post insights on my daily blog, Human to Human. It’s journalling and learning in public, Monday through Thursday, in which I post current learnings (taking sporadic weeks off to write longer pieces or to rest). Posts speak on varied aspects of participative leadership practices, insights, and human to human depth. You can sign up to receive new posts by entering your email on the blog page. There’s also a corresponding Podcast.

Published Work

In June 2022, I published my second collection of poetry, Most Mornings. This collection offers verse to both my work and to my communal and solo living. As I describe in the Introduction, “This collection of poems comes from some of my sense-making that so often happens in the morning, nurtured by overnight sleep. These poems sample practices. They sample learnings. They sample insights and discoveries. They sample dilemmas and concerns. They range from simple and clear appreciations to more complex and murky wonderings about how to be in the world of these times. I offer these verses to invite essences to lead, as poetry often does, and to invite discovery of what can only live between the lines.

Previously (March 2020) I published A Cadence of Despair: Poems and Reflections on Heartbreak, Loss and Renewal. This isn’t a book about facilitation. Rather, it is a book about coming into relationship with despair, including some of my experience with descent and ascent. It’s highly personal material that maps the personal to the universal.

I also enjoy writing articles, thought papers, poems and the reflection that is participating in conversational podcasts.

More on My Articles & Newsletters

More on My Podcasts and Videos

More on My Poems

About Group Facilitation

The Basics: What I Do

It’s meeting design and facilitation. It’s strategic visioning. It’s participative leadership. It’s workshops to multi-day retreats. It’s coaching individuals and teams. Helping us be smarter together.

More about The Basics

The Subtle: How I Do It

The subtle here is a reference to what is underneath. It is true to me that there are some basics. Maps. Methodologies. Models. These are very important. And, if I did not speak about the subtle, I would not be being totally honest. I often use the language of hosting. Or convening. Underneath that, what I believe we are really hosting and cultivating when working with group facilitation is consciousness, wellness, wholeness, and resonance.

More on The Subtle

The Theory: What I’ve Learned

“Make sure that whatever processes you choose to use or create comes from a deliberate underlaying theory of change.”

This was the advice offered to me from two important early mentors, Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner Rogers. It was a commentary on some of what we were seeing group facilitators do that sometimes felt confusing to participants. Since then, it has always felt important to me to connect group facilitation to theory. Not so much extensive detail. But as root, or bedrock, to clarify criteria for choosing what to do and what not to do. Theory is the story that helps make sense of the past, and, discern what is useful now and into the future. I often speak of the three theory bases that inspire my work:

  1. Living Systems — that organizations are living systems.
  2. Self-Organization — that groups of people experience “order for free” when centered in clear values.
  3. Emergence — that insight and change happens from what arises when a system encounters itself.

More on Theory

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Partners in Group Facilitation

I have made it policy to most often work in partnership. The work is so much more than mechanical check lists from the front of the room. I’ve worked with really fantastic people all of my life. People I trust.

See the Full List

Group Facilitation Clients

I have so enjoyed working with such a range of groups and systems over the last 25 years. From faith community councils to university-wide senior leadership. From labor unions to corporate leadership teams. From health care practitioners to school teachers. In contexts ranging from coaching explorations to meetings to retreats to large conference redesign.

See the Full List

Kind Words

“Tenneson Woolf reflects a peaceful soul coupled with outstanding facilitation skills. He is wise, and he helps each participant feel wise as well. He has a rare gift for reaching directly into each participant’s mind and heart.”

Phyllis Winter, Wisdom Way Alumn

“Tenneson Woolf reflects a peaceful soul coupled with outstanding facilitation skills. He is wise, and he helps each participant feel wise as well. He has a rare gift for reaching directly into each participant’s mind and heart.”

Jeremy Nash, Creator and Convener, Poetry Tribe

“Tenneson is a thoughtful and inspiring leader and coach. He has walked alongside me on my journey into wise leadership, manhood, and healing of self. He is the kind of leader we need at this moment – kind, insightful, with a firm guiding hand.”

Prentiss J. Haney, Co-Executive Director, Ohio Organizing Collaborative

I’m grateful for kind words offered, appreciations from things very personal to institutional. A few more of them are here.

Human to Human: Blog and Podcast

Latest Blog Posts

Read more blogs here.


Latest Podcast Episodes

Listen to more episodes here.

Contact

The first step on the path is always a conversation. To meet by phone or video. To hear or share a bit of the story about hopes and challenges, purpose and possibility. To start with wonder and some skilled wander.

Email

tenneson@tennesonwoolf.com

Phone

801 376 2213

Mail

Tenneson Woolf
PO Box 1271
Pleasant Grove, Utah 84062